CENTER CITY - There’s a new warning from police about rainbow fentanyl and a mother who lost her son to a fentanyl overdose shares her story.
"He was my oldest child, my only son. This happened and to this day, I just can’t understand it," mother Tanya Niederman said.
JJ Niederman was only 19 when he died of a fentanyl overdose. A year and a half later, his mom, Tanya, is still living with the loss.
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Tanya encourages parents to educate themselves on the potentially deadly drugs and to have tough conversations with their children as illicit fentanyl is circulating everywhere.
"It’s sad and it’s scary. I have two younger daughters and no one ever thinks that you’re going to lose a child, but when it happens, it’s like that fear is so real that you live with it every single day," Tanya explained.
Federal authorities are warning families of a new trend called rainbow fentanyl appearing on the streets.
"An increase in colors, in shapes of these pills to almost mimic colors of a rainbow," Supervisory Special Agent of US DEA in Philadelphia, Patrick Trainor, said.
Special Agent Trainor says the variety of colors, shapes and sizes that look like candy and even sidewalk chalk are all a deliberate effort to attract young adults.
"Any pill that is being purchased on the street, outside of a pharmacy or being obtained from a doctor, more than likely is fake," Special Agent Trainor explained.
In 2021, federal authorities reported over 107,000 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. with illicit fentanyl responsible for 65 percent of those deaths.
JJ was just entering his second semester at Rowan University. While many questions remain, Tanya hopes her son’s story will prevent another tragedy. "It’s an awful, awful feeling and I’m just sad that I will never know that man that he was going to grow up to be."
The DEA is heading to schools as early as elementary to have these conversations and they’re also urging parents to have conversations with their young children.